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Max BMW Motorcycles

April 12, 2004
Filed under Features

OWNER
Max Stratton

BUSINESS PROFILE
10,000-sq.-ft. dealership, built new in July 2002. BMW exclusive. In its first full year, sold 220 new motorcycles, 83 used; annual gross revenue of $5.4 million. 11 employees.

GREATEST CONCERN
Stratton’s greatest concern is to keep people riding and involved with motorcycles. “We’re always looking for new products and new models, but those will come when they come — we don’t have much control over that. What we do have control over is our involvement with people, making sure that they stay involved so that they do ride and do understand the value of the motorcycle. Rather than just a ‘weekend warrior’ thing, we try to get them to use their motorcycle as true transportation.”

WHAT’S HOT?
Hot sellers at Max include the R 1150 GS Adventure, the F 650, the R 1150 GS, and the R 1150 RT. As for accessories, best-selling items include BMW luggage, Metzler tires, TourTec gloves, and genuine BMW apparel.

“We have a big Adventure dual-sport riding program, so we set up bikes for off-road riding,” says Stratton. “I also sell Gerbing heated vests, jacket liners, and pants, because that complements the BMW apparel. It has proven best not to compete with the BMW apparel brand.”

Stratton says the used motorcycle market is “very important. If new-bike sales are low one month, it definitely pulls our unit numbers over the edge and allows us to serve other price points that new BMW motorcycles can’t fit into.

“It’s a way for me to carry other brands of motorcycles, since I never retail a new, non-BMW motorcycle out of this store. It would be fun to carry, say, KTM or Ducati, but I think it’s smarter to focus on one product. The customers know that’s your main interest.”

CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“People tell me we tend to have more younger riders here than most other BMW shops because we do a lot of adventure dual-sport riding and track days,” says Stratton. “But there are many guys 55 and over who come on those rides, too. So we’re serving everyone from early 30s up to beyond 55. Loudon is our home racetrack right now, but a new one in Tamworth, New Hampshire, will become our track. It’s about the same distance away, but it will be a nicer facility.”

ANTI-POWERSPORTS ISSUES
“People who live near the new racetrack are protesting,” says Stratton. “They’re concerned that it’s going to be bad for the environment. Also, a huge number of motorcycle trails that we used to ride on are being closed, all in the last year and a half. We try to be ‘proper’ people on the trail — respect it and not tear it up. I’m a member of NETRA — the New England Trail Riders Association — and appreciate the work they do, but I haven’t had time to be heavily involved.”

PARTS AND SERVICE
Parts manager Rusty Gill is a 22-year veteran of the BMW parts world, while parts salesperson John Martin has five years under his belt.

“They have very different personalities and dynamics,” says Stratton. “Rusty is very good with the old parts and the history, while John is very good at keeping order. They complement each other. In service there are four technicians, a service manager, and a service writer. All the techs come from different backgrounds; some automotive, some long histories with BMW,” says Stratton, who was in service and sales for Volvo automobiles prior to founding the dealership.

“We’re one of the very few dealers that services older motorcycles. We’ll take in anything but pre-War BMWs, just because we don’t have any chance of getting parts or tools. We’ll service from a /2 on up and repair a lot of /5s and airheads.”

PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Max BMW is updating its Web site. Part of that is the forming of two teams: an FS650 GS dual-sport team and the Boxer Cup road-racing team.

“We also have a big street-riding destination program,” says Stratton. “Everything we do is on Sunday, like the movie title. It starts with employees, and we involve as many customers as we can. Anyone can show up and participate, with minimal preparation and training.

“When we first opened, a lot of people hit me up to do week-long European tours — like, ‘The Max BMW Tour to New Zealand.’ Looking at the cost and my customer base, I realized that most have jobs and families. It’s difficult to spend that kind of money just on themselves and not a whole family vacation. It makes more sense to keep events local and over one or two days. Families can come watch.”

WORDS OF ADVICE
“Being very involved with your customers should be everything you do,” says Stratton. “I don’t think Max BMW Motorcycles would be where it is today if I didn’t spend every Sunday riding with my customers — on the street, on the track, or in the dirt. My relationship with my fiancée is saved by intercom, because she rides with me on all these events!”

CONTACT
209 Lafayette Road, Route 1
North Hampton, NH 03862
603/964-2877
www.maxbmwmotorcycles.com

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